CBS and Turner Sports “already seem poised for another substantial revenue victory” around the NCAA Tournament, according to Anthony Crupi of ADWEEK. Sources said that all 67 games tournament games “are virtually sold out across CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV.” All told, “more than” 95% of the available in-game inventory has been claimed by marketers, making this year’s event “even tighter” than last year. For “all intent and purposes,” the Final Four and National Championship games are sold out, with a 30-second ad in the title game costing as much as $1.6M, up 10% from last year's going rate of $1.45M. While the networks "did not comment on pricing, sources said that first- and second-round games are fetching around $250,000 per spot, with costs escalating as the tournament progresses.” On average, a 30-second spot during the Final Four costs as much as $1.1M. Auto, financial services and telecom “have accounted for the lion's share of commitments, followed by QSR and tech/consumer electronics.” Early ratings are “looking promising,” but the “lack of a consensus favorite could impact ratings in the later rounds.” Media buyer Starcom Worldwide Senior VP & Dir Sam Sussman said, “Our projection for this year is that ratings will be down slightly … although there's always some unpredictability in sports. But even if ratings are down, we’re still looking at a property that will be up versus the last year CBS went it alone (2010)" (ADWEEK.com, 3/21).
GOING OVERTIME: Buffalo Wild Wings President & CEO Sally Smith apeared on CNBC on Thursday and said “March Madness by far is the biggest time in our restaurant,” while Super Bowl Sunday remains the “biggest day.” Smith said sales have “more to do with how competitive the games are and how close they stay.” CNBC's Scott Wapner said, “A bunch of Cinderellas in the Final Four can’t be that great for business. You want as many people watching the most hotly contested and anticipated games that you can get to drive business, right?” Smith: “We absolutely do … (but) sometimes with Cinderella teams it’s fun to see what’s going to happen. But a close game is really as important as who's playing for us” (“Squawk on the Street,” CNBC, 3/21).
YES Network is promoting Opening Day of the Yankees’ season with a new 60-second ad that implies the team’s fans should feel fortunate that some of the best players of this generation currently wear pinstripes. The ad, which is titled “Blessed” and was created in-house, debuted earlier this week and will run until the team’s April 1 game against the Red Sox. Actor Danny Aiello narrates the promo, which begins, “On other teams in other towns, players come and go. But in this city, in this stadium, on this field of dreams -- things are different, special.” Images of SS Derek Jeter, Ps Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte -- the three remaining Yankees from the ’96 World Series-winning team -- are shown achieving personal milestones. 2B Robinson Cano, RF Ichiro Suzuki and P CC Sabathia are later shown as Aiello says, “From the role players and the blown calls to the curtain calls, we bear witness to history, to greatness. Greatness doesn’t come along every day. Postseason heroes aren’t magically born, living legends come once in a lifetime. Maybe we’re lucky, maybe we’re spoiled, maybe we’re blessed. Maybe other teams think it’s their time or maybe not just yet.” Several injured Yankees -- notably 3B Alex Rodriguez, 1B Mark Teixeira and CF Curtis Granderson -- are not featured in the ad, but YES Network VP/On-Air Promotions John Brueckner said, “We made the decision to go with the guys we know are going to be there Opening Day.” Teixeira was in the first cut of the promo, but Brueckner said, “When we heard he was injured we said, ‘Alright, let’s better be safe than sorry and make sure we’re focusing on the guys who are going to be there April 1.'”
I REMEMBER WHEN...: Brueckner credited YES President & CEO Tracy Dolgin for inspiring the spot. He notes Dolgin was speaking with him “about being a Yankees fan and what’s great about being a Yankee.” Brueckner: “He really was thinking about this idea looking back. Speaking to your kids and grandkids the way my father or grandfather would say, ‘I saw Babe Ruth, I saw Mickey Mantle.’” He added, “At some point we’re going to look back and say, ‘I saw Derek Jeter play,’ and one of the words that kept coming up was ‘being blessed.’”
NOT MEANT TO PROP UP RATINGS: YES last season saw its lowest Yankees ratings since it went on the air in '02, but Brueckner said that had no influence on the ad. He noted, “Every season we do one of these spots. Whether it’s the Yankees or the Nets, whenever we’ve got a new season coming up … we’ll have a larger spot that lets everybody know they’re coming back for the season." The fact the Yankees did very little in the offseason in terms of marquee acquisitions also played no role in amping up promotion of the upcoming season. Brueckner: “It’s never an issue of who was signed or who wasn’t signed. It’s always about the team and that sort of faith and hope for the coming season. … Our job on this side is to really create some interest and let our fans know the team they love is back.”
Nike and its affiliated brands sponsor 47 of the 64 teams in the NCAA Women’s Tournament, down three from 50 in last year's tourney, according to THE DAILY's annual breakdown of the shoe and apparel brands worn in the tourney. Ten teams wear adidas shoes, two fewer than last year. Under Armour gained three teams in the tourney, going from two teams in '12 to five this year. Russell Athletic supplies the jerseys for two schools, half as many as last year, while Jordan Brand jerseys are worn by two teams. Schools in the chart below are listed by region in their seed order. The first round of the women's tournament begins Saturday (THE DAILY).
In Wales, Dafydd Pritchard noted EPL club Swansea City and shirt sponsor 32Red “have reached an agreement to end” the online casino's contract with the club “a year early this summer.” The company has been Swansea City’s “primary sponsors for four years, but they have agreed to forgo their deal for the 2013-14 campaign.” 32Red signed the initial contract when Swansea City was “still a Championship club," but after a few seasons in the EPL, "Swansea are now looking to capitalise on their growing stature” (THISISSOUTHWALES.co.uk, 3/21).
END OF AN ERA: The GUARDIAN’s Sachin Nakrani reported England's FIFA World Cup qualifier against Montenegro on Tuesday “represents the last in which the national team will wear shirts made by Umbro, ending an association that dates back to the 1950s.” The Umbro shirts have never had an advertiser’s logo, and “leaked images” of the soon-to-be-launched Nike shirt “suggest that” Nike will continue that tradition (GUARDIAN, 3/21).
BOXING DAY: In K.C., Tod Palmer reported National Women's Soccer League club FC Kansas City “signed a three-year deal” with Title Boxing Company to sponsor the club’s three jerseys, which were unveiled yesterday at The Jacobson restaurant. Title Boxing Club was founded in Overland Park in ‘08 and “now operates more than 400 franchises nationwide," including 13 in K.C. The new league “kicks off its inaugural season” on April 13 (K.C. STAR, 3/21).